Review: First winter/spring lunchtime concert at St George’s URC, Morpeth.
The Bottle Bank Band were the first to feature in the new series of lunchtime concerts when they performed in St George’s United Reformed Church.
An unusual title for a group, perhaps. There are sound reasons, however.
The name derives from the Bottle Bank in Gateshead, which was the one-time residence of James Hill.
He was a 19th century fiddle player and composer and he became known as the Pagnini of Gateshead, so complex and compelling were his compositions.
Hill’s tunes are famous worldwide and form a large part of the Bottle Bank Band’s repertoire.
The four members of the band — Sophy Ball, Chloe Jones, David Jones and Stewart Hardy — have all established reputations as outstanding musicians.
But by combining they create a wonderful and exciting musical landscape.
Their programme was comprised of mainly local compositions with particular emphasis on James Hill, but other areas featured including a folk tune from Shetland.
In total they performed some 25 folk tunes with waltzes, jogs, hornpipes, reels and traditional melodies played in quick succession.
The playing was outstanding with discipline and togetherness key component in the performance.
All four gifted musicians played as a team and it was obvious that they had been together for some considerable time.
The music itself was intricate, complex and very challenging but the four made light work of the difficulties faced.
An outstanding moment was the beautiful legato playing of a piece by band member Stewart Hardy which was a joy to the ear.
All in all, however, the four fiddlers created a wonderful and vivid sound with some great arrangements.
Their performance had tone, tempo, timing, teamwork and total togetherness.
On a cold January morning there was a capacity audience, who thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the thrilling performance of an outstanding team.
This was the first visit of the Bottle Bank Band and it won’t be the last.
For details of the next lunchtime concert to take place at St George’s URC in Morpeth see the panel on the right.